Seventeen Positives for 2017!

Seventeen Positives for 2017!

By Suzanne Burnett Stewart

Wow, I cannot believe that 2017 is upon us already! Only a few more days and I will have gone through another year with unrelenting nerve pain from systemic/full body CRPS and several other painful illnesses.

I have a choice to make, this New Year, this month, this week and today. I can choose to get up and start again, to make positive choices and be a “doer”. On the other hand, I can go back to bed, be negative and be a “downer”.  That doesn’t mean that some days aren’t going to be “downer” days. But we truly must try our best to make the most of each day.

I have decided that some of us may need help getting started with the New Year and those pesky resolutions that we seem to start and never keep.

These are the kinds of things we can all do to help ourselves and each other to have a better year than the one or one’s prior. Here is my list of resolutions for the New Year, 2017:

  1. First of all, when you start to think more positively, you will become a more positive person. So first, and foremost start to think more positively.
  2. When you feel that you are having an especially bad day, take the morning to rest and recuperate. Try to do at least one thing in the afternoon, that will make you feel that you have accomplished a minimum of one activity each day. This activity may be as simple as taking a shower. When you deal with chronic illness, taking a shower can be very draining and therefore, this is an accomplishment!
  3. If you are a woman and you used to wear make up, try putting on making up once in awhile. If you are a man, then try to shave once in awhile and put on some after-shave, even if you live alone. You’ll be surprised at how different and revived it’ll make you feel.
  4. When you wake up in the morning, make a choice for yourself that this will be a “good day”. If not a “good day”; then at least try to make it a little bit better. The more we think positively, the better we will feel. This will lower Blood pressure and negative thoughts etc.
  5. Whether you are with a husband, a partner or living alone, try to be more respectful of the other person or people around you. Remember that they are suffering your illness(es) as well. They are missing out when you cannot go with them to places and/or events as much as you are missing out on going. Just be mindful of how your actions cause reactions in the ones that you love.
  6. Get up and out of bed each day. Even if it is only to do a small action, such as moving onto your favorite chair instead of lying in bed all day. If you have a pet, sit with them in a different area. Give yourself different sense of scenery. You’ll see that just getting out of bed can make you feel more positive.
  7. Try each day to either watch a funny movie, read a good book or if you cannot get into this kind of commitment, then find some good articles on the internet to read. These things tend to keep our minds sharp and help with a positive mind set. Don’t read only the “bad stuff” in the News; or articles about your illness(es). Try to get “lost” into a fun or funny book /movie or a drama.
  8. If your memory is a bit foggy due to illness(es), try making a list. You can make a list of things that you want to accomplish in this New Year if you want to think long term. If you want to look at this in a shorter time frame then make a list each day, of things that you want to accomplish during that 24 hours. Check off things as you do them.
  9. Try to learn at least one new skill this year. There are so many things to do and many that we can do even if we are not feeling very well. There are things to do that pass the time, which are more positive.  Some examples of larger scale activities or skills might be: sewing, making jewelry, cooking,  knitting, crocheting or learning a new language.
  10. Try new activities on a smaller daily scale, such as:  the new adult coloring books, go to library or get someone to go to the library for you and sign out some magazines and read through different articles, make a scrap or memory book or organize your photos. You could even do something as small as starting a new board on Pinterest.
  11. Remember that “junk drawer” or closet that has been cluttered up all year long? Clean those out and organize and you’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel! A weight seems to be lifted when we start to organize or “de-clutter”! If you cannot do it yourself, ask for help! Many people do want to help us if we allow it.
  12. Join an organization or group that does something good for yourself and others. You could join a support group or start one for a number of different causes.
  13. Volunteer at your local humane society or animal shelter. You can do tasks as simple as petting cats and /or dogs. Give love to an animal and see how that makes you feel more energetic and positive.
  14. Volunteer to read stories to children at a day care center or at your local library. That is a “sit-down” activity that will make you feel useful and children always make us feel loved.
    If you cannot get out of the house, then try to do something online.
  15. Volunteer to be a patient leader and do positive activities online such as positive Meme’s on Facebook or tweeting positive affirmations for yourself and others.
  16. Make your surroundings seem new, different or better by something as big as cleaning, painting (even just a little bit each day), putting up new pictures or rearranging your furniture. Get someone to help you if you need that. On a smaller scale you can do something as simple as changing your haircut, color or paint your nails. If you are a male, you can buff up your nails, clean them and put on some clear polish to feel and be more groomed.
  17. Lastly, you can find several organizations that need you. There are many church’s, libraries and Senior centers that would love to have you come to visit even just for an hour once per week. If you cannot get out of the house, then try looking into being a Chemo-angel (you write letters or send small gifts weekly to persons going through chemo-therapy). You can start your own “sunshine” type of group and send letters to those who are feeling ill just like you and me. When you do something for others, it helps your own Psychological and physical health.

Above I have given you 17 “New Year’s Activities” for 2017. If you can force yourself to get up each day, get out of bed and cleanse your body and your soul; you will be one step closer to feeling more positive. If at all possible, do something each day that makes that day just a bit brighter. If each day is similar and we do all of the same mundane things, then we will get into a “rut”. Get out of your “rut” and think of someone else. You will be amazed at how good you’ll feel just by giving some of yourself to someone else’s cause.

There are many excuses for not doing, going or getting out of bed. So many of us have chronic daily pain that make it difficult. I understand that because I am one of these people. But I have found that by joining organization(s) in which I have control of how much or how little I have to contribute daily; I can lower my pain if only for a few moments or hours.  By giving of myself and helping others who are also in pain, I can do so many things! What I’m trying to explain is that these things pass the time. The days can become so long when we leave ourselves alone and vulnerable to our own thoughts. Keep your thoughts as upbeat as possible. You’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have when you are positive. It takes more energy to be negative and many more muscles to frown than to smile. Make someone else smile and you will be a happier person.
I don’t mean that you have to do something every single hour of every day. Of course we all need some down time. We need our naps & restful periods to regroup, recoup and revive ourselves!

Have a Blessed New Year and I will be praying and hoping that you have a healthier, more positive 2017! When all else fails, put on some headphones, turn down the lights and listen to your favorite music! See you in the New Year!

Suzanne suffers from full body CRPS and has lived in chronic pain since 1999. Before being disabled by chronic pain, she was an Interpreter for the Deaf at University of Michigan Hospitals and for several school districts, working with children.  Today she is a patient Health Advocate, guest writer, blogger and fundraiser for RSDSA and an Ambassador for U.S. Pain Foundation and creates Advocacy videos, and writes in her own blog “Tears of Truth” (

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Authored by: Suzanne Stewart

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Words to live bye, thanks for reminding me to keep positive. My husband has been a rock for the last 14 years, taking the responsibility of the only bread winner, when I got injured in a cervical manipulation. I was never able to work again, his employer allowed him to work overtime and I was put on SSD at age 47 years young. We still struggle financially and emotionally. He is a manly, man that ruggedly tough on the exterior type that’s a big softie inside. We got married 37 years ago, I liked the idea of protection he offered, besides love, but never really affectionate, untill the injury. He became me and our two young girls caregiver, working all day ,come home to cook and get kids in bed, clean up and even grocery shop,way out of his league. But he still does it, although I can now shower by myself and shop for a few groceries, I’ve gotten better at accepting my new body. I always keep looking at the glass being half full, He is learning but not there yet. That’s the key to survive the crazy medical situation we find ourselves dealing with everyday. I have to find humor in this somewhere and I do. That glass has to stay half Full for me, make the best of the long rides to your doctor’s office,love the music,find your one thing to laugh about everyday. The very last 5 months with the CDC opiate regulations, Im in a bad way again with pain management. But I see a tunnel in the future with this and as my hubby says” we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel” maybe my pain will be better controlled next month. Think positive, right?

Joan Hamm

P. S. Dear Suzanne.. I can honestly say I have done or do most of your list. It helps but does not rid me of the disease. I made and donated to charities or gave away at My errands baby sweaters for poor pregnant women. Over 300 I made over 3yrs and gave away. Custom made and designed colors fits first four or five months old. I prayed to God what can I do… Weeks later the answer was the sweaters. I stopped to do other volunteer type things when I feel okay. I do not want praise at all… Just needed something good to do for others. I try not to think selfish thoughts but we are human and as long as we try to do good things it is worthwhile. So ones mind cannot take away the pain in body.. It can only make us feel a tiny bit better. Positive thoughts are great but it is not a cure. Scientists created medicines for those who suffer and no government ruling should take that right away from us. Or we are not the great American country people think we are. We all should not be punished due to drug dealers and bad Doctors.

Jean Price

Such good suggestions…even one of these would be an achievement to bolster a flagging spirit! I have found also some days we may need to just let our pain flatten us, strictly limited to twelve hours or less…to the point that the next day WILL BE BETTER, just by sheer comparison! It helps affirm our struggle and also gives us hope for feeling better and doing more. Hope arises from the affirmation that we are doing something right and that we matter!! Regardless of what else is happening in our lives! We can give this to ourselves and receive it from others.

It has always seemed to me that life with pain can be rather like a manic depressive roller coaster at times. We feel a little better…only to feel worse latter in the day or the next day! And we may berate ourselves for overdoing, when in reality, our activity level was not likely to be totally responsible for the down turn! That’s just pain…in all its varieties and all its limits and changes! Distraction and doing something for others is always a plus, even for those who don’t live with pain. And this can help even out the low times we have. It can be as easy as a phone call to a friend to catch up, limiting your input about your pain can help there too. I have a neighbor who doesn’t cook at all, so I tell her I “use” her for my therapy when I can share a homemade goodie! And even now when I’m not able to bake as much…my husband is gracious to offer some of his cooking and lets me feel like we both helped our neighbor a little! I can always stick in a few little store bought goodies she can sample, and get creative in what she has come to call her “care packages”! One of the resolutions I am holding up to myself this year is to sing to myself more! I used to do this a lot and have realized how little I find myself doing it now! There is joy in music and even off key, I can appreciate lending my voice to a song I know by heart…or most of the words anyway! We each must find our own refueling and our own hope…yet it helps to have these great suggestions when the new year comes and we may be feeling a little burdened by all we missed out on. Good luck in all your choices, and the outcomes it will surely bring! Hope doesn’t have to be huge to help and joy can comes in the smallest details of life. With pain, it’s the little things that can help make us aware that life is still good, even when we hurt!


Thank you for the kind comments. I try to be a person who uses “Hope” as a verb. As I said in my last article; that you must “do” something in order to help yourself keep hope alive. This is a venue for me to hopefully help as many other chronic pain patients as possible. I try to be as positive as I’m able to be. But on any given day, I can feel negativity creep in as some of you do. I know we can all have that happen. It’s what we do with that negativity is what matters. We can lash out at others; or we can take the negative thoughts and throw them out the window as far away from us as possible!! Sure, there are those darker days, but like a Phoenix, we must rise up against this monster called chronic pain. These comments are are a place to comment about the article that was read. Whether good or bad, this is a spot here for comments about the above written article. I think everyone should have a journal or their own blog, writing is a wonderful exhilarating outlet for feelings.

I am a practitioner of all of these things. I love to wear makeup (used to wear it all the time), paint, draw, write, etc. There have been days recently though, where even the getting up for more than getting a bite to eat or heading to the bathroom was impossible. I suffer from more than just pain: a chronic muscle weakness, fatigue, & shortness of breath which probably impedes me just as much as pain does when I’m feeling better.

Sandy Auriene Sullivan

This list is very ‘doable’ and that feeling of accomplishment from the otherwise simple act of taking a shower and the feeling afterwards has long been a type of ‘award for me. What’d I do today? A load of laundry, fed the animals, made the bed [same reason as mentioned; so if I do lay down later it isn’t in the bed and doesn’t feel like ‘going to bed’ which is also important for my brain function to have day/night bedtime/awake time very distinguished]

The lil bit of make up also makes me feel better. Before I go to doc’s now, I usually prep the mind to go to these appointments 48hrs ahead. Prepping what I will wear [always comfortable but also a feeling of being dressed well enough to look ‘smart-casual’ which is well dressed but still casual], I prep the night before by getting up one hour earlier and setting the alarm to do so on my doctor’s appointment day. Further, I set the alarm to wake me at the same time every day; except Sat/Sun. Keeping the time schedule helps keep a sleep schedule. Never been a morning person.

Typically take the shower in the evening, I wear my hair straight/flat ironed. Well nothing is easy for those of us CPPs so how do I manage my hair?! Process. Showering the night before, leave in conditioners and attending to it before bed [blowing it dry for example] then flat ironing it before the appointment or the night before - keeps my hair looking great for up to 3 days so I only need to put myself in a hot shower some nights using a cap!

There’s so much good advice and all of it really does make one feel a bit better.
Try a little mascara and if possible your fav perfume. So what if no one is going to see it/smell it but you. It is YOU who matters here.
Happy New Year everyone and lets hope there’s some sort of real break thru in easing pain to come instead of the news that they’ll just take what helps us cope with our day.


Joan Hamm, you are so right, quit hurting the elderly and the sick and go after the people who don’t need pain medication then more people who live with serious pain would have a better chance of being able to make those little changes in thought and action to make their lives more bearable.
Gentle hugs and wishes for the best New Year possible to everyone.

This came at just the right time for me. I did get up and out of bed, but I have felt too tired all day to accomplish the to-do list I made for myself. I have a few autoimmune disorders and a strange oral problem called Burning Mouth Syndrome. The weather here shifted dramatically last night, and a family member is in a health crisis, so I feel lousy.

But your list makes me consider what I have accomplished today, and not what I have yet to do. I drew two pictures to complete a project. I researched jobs. Started to re-read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver-a classic book. I can only read a few pages at a time, but that still beats NOT reading. Oh, and I looked at the entire paper.

All of your advice helped me to recognize the value I carry within, and how I might share that in my family and community.

Thank you for presenting it in such an upbeat and productive way.


Kristen K

Thank you so much Suzanne for laying out many of positive suggestions for everyone.Today i had my 5 hr iv infusion at my local hospital cancer center.I have been living with the burden of Chronic pain that is getting worse and that being said making things seem impossible for today ,as i take a day at a time.Your Artical really inspired me to get up and do a few task every day.I believe you nailed this one .Though im on a bevy of pain meds including morphine which makes me so tired i have chosen to to take your wonderful suggestions and not try but do one each day because i do believe for me personally speaking for myself i have two choices i can lay in bed and stew about the pain i live in or i can get up and make things happen even if it is just taking a shower and throwing on some makeup.which by the way i just put some of my favorite lipstick on that i haven’t touched in i don’t know how long and i must say i feel a bit happier! I could ramble on but i just want to say Thank you for writting this artical,it sure got me thinking! Wishing everyone a happy 2017!


Thankyou for this good read:) as I have been up all night with nerve pain from my hip to my toes like a toothache times 100. I can identify with all of what you shared. I’m not sure how far I will get today but when I do finally get out of bed the first thing I do is make the bed so I do not feel like I’m in bed when I’m laying down . The only tiny bit of relief I get is when I am not walking standing or sitting does not leave too much left does it ? This has been very helpful and wishing all who read this a happy new year also and I hope in the new year I will finally get to the right source school he only through this five-year nightmare of debilitating pain. 3 years post fusion.

Joan Hamm

I too have RSD CRPS. It is a horrible suffering pain disease!!!! This disease one never knows how bad it spreads pain when it strikes at different parts of body. The Wierd attacks can be like tiny needles poking in your eyes. Or unbearable pain in joints.. Groins.. Legs and head. The pain lasts only minutes. I rub the areas but I cannot move at all while pain attacks. I scream with a towel over my mouth so neighbors don’t know. Unless I need help. But slowly while screaming I move my body while rubbing the area and slowly can move and get out of bed. Sometimes my tummy is sore for hours same .as head or joint pain. The attacks eventually go away but the original injured area is my right foot and right calve. My baby toe turned navy blue and back of toe red. The pain was unbearable. Then four red blotches appeared on right calve. Pain horrible. After days of screaming in pain in towel off and on toe and calve got better. The red on calve turned red to brown circles. Four big circles. I showed my Dr. Both happened two times in seven years since I got RSD from a bad fall. I landed flat like a pancake injuring nerves in foot and calve without breaking bones. But my right foot was numb and calve for several years. Now the severe attacks come every day all day. Without medicines to ease the pain I would have died long ago. The medicines never made me high or relaxed. The medicines from day one knew where in my body they were needed and this allowed me to drive.. Do errands.. Clean etc. Yes I still felt sick but to look at me one couldnt tell how I suffered so bad. Then I knew my body had to get back in bed. This is a Wierd. Disease. The pain can get as bad if not worse than Cancer. It’s like Hard hard labor delivering a baby without the medicines when the attacks start. Again it’s a Wierd disease. It should be called Wierd horrible PAIN disease. The USA is lacking in not putting this disease that many people have and traces back in History!!!! Up with the horrible suffering diseases. But one can live a normal life with the medicines.. Well somewhat normal. So we can do good for others by volunteering etc. Again Wierd. If medicines are taken away from these CRPS patients the government will be committing murder. Many people have it. Many Doctors even said they never heard of it yet they are treating people with pain. Ignorant for these suffering people. USA has to recognize this horrible disease and allow people to live. And go after the big drug dealers who are pushing drugs to innocent people who don’t have a disease. Not after sick people. Payoffs are probably done by these evil big drug dealers who the government knows about. So the… Read more »